LOOK AT THAT FUCKING POSTER! How could you NOT want to see this movie immediately!? I am pretty sure I only saw the trailer for this film once, and knew I was going to see it, so I didn’t bother watching the trailer over and over. Every time that Rampaige walked by the poster, she got frightened and clutched my arm and held her head in my bosom. Well, I might be embellishing a bit, but it did freak her out. It’s obviously hard to have a movie with “exorcism” in the title, as well as a contorted young girl on your poster, without drawing obvious comparisons to The Exorcist, and this film was able to honor that film’s legacy without being a carbon copy.
Blood? Check. Looking at me angrily? Check. You’re finally a woman!
Since I enjoyed the film, and encourage others to see it, I don’t want to give away too much of what’s going on, so I’ll try to keep it vague. We have Cotton Marcus, played by the awesome Patrick Fabian, a pastor down in Louisiana who had his faith challenged, and eventually swayed, when his child falls ill. He might not believe in the things he preaches about, but he is not attempting to lie to people, merely providing them with a service that they require, and all parties leave happy. He is being followed by a documentary crew, so he can show them what goes on when he performs one of his “exorcisms”. It’s mostly bells and whistles, as Cotton attributes most possessions to psychological trauma, rather than demons, but as long as the people get what they need, everyone involved appreciates the experience. Cotton takes a case in a small town in Louisiana, and, well, you can probably assume a plethora of things that happen from there, and the film probably addresses each concept you come up with, in the best way possible.
I don’t trust anything that wears one of these crazy nightgowns.
This film had a great combination of atmosphere, acting, mood, and overall sense of unease, tension, and doubt over who or what to believe. Your average viewer can go into this film and enjoy the “scary” moments, but for all of us who have seen their fair share of horror films, it was hard to ignore the influences of other films on this one. Before we go any further, I must say that I enjoyed this film, and all the movies I was reminded of while watching are good films, and Last Exorcism didn’t at all feel like it was copying off of them. It was, however, apparent that director Daniel Stamm really knew his shit, inside and out, and it really must have just been oozing out of him while directing. As the name implies, there is a connection to The Exorcist, about a teenage girl getting possessed by a demonic force, and a preacher who has questioned his faith being brought in to remove it. One of the best horror movies of all time, filled with terrifying and shocking imagery, that leaves everyone who watched it questioning their faith. The Last Exorcism clearly has a similar plot, as well as an incredible actress, Ashley Bell, playing a possessed girl, who makes you believe she has to be possessed to pull off some of the contortion we see onscreen.
Yes, they did manage to get someone who looked like Salute Your Shorts era Bobby Budnick. Eli Roth has got some deep ass pockets.
Other cinematic influences would be the Rosemary’s Baby and The Wicker Man. I said that to someone and they said “The original, or the Nicolas Cage version?”. I immediately called the hospital to let them know one of their brain-damaged patients had escaped, and they could find him buying tickets to see The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Rosemary’s Baby is about a woman who gets impregnated by her husband, but doesn’t seem to trust her neighbors, him, or her own doctors. There are ups and downs with the pregnancy, as well as in her mood, and we get to watch one of the best endings in horror film history. Similarly, The Wicker Man is about a detective sent to a small island to investigate a murder, but can’t seem to get straight answers from anyone in the small town, and the ending to this film is also a shocker. The Last Exorcism really captures the distrust of the community of both of those films successfully. Do we believe our Pastor Cotton? Is there something going on with this girl’s family that we don’t know about? What’s happening in this town that no one wants to talk about? You feel just as confused, nervous, and distrusting of the characters as they feel of each other, so you never really know whose side you want to be on, and by the end of the film, no matter which side you choose, you were wrong.
I KNOW! I KNOW! YOU’RE DENIM DUNGAREE DRESS IS AWFUL!
Lastly, the content of this film was somewhat similar to the film that was supposedly based on a true story, The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Though I wouldn’t necessarily call it a horror film, Emily Rose involves a woman, whose name you might have guessed, dying because of an exorcism. The film then is more of a courtroom drama about whether or not she was possessed by a demon, or if all of her symptoms could be explained through modern science. As I mentioned, this film isn’t quite that scary, since most of the possession scenes are just told in flashback, but the debate of what your mind is or isn’t capable of was what made this film stand out. The Last Exorcism makes you question the same things, but because you are right there in the middle of what’s going on, rather than flashbacks, you feel yourself changing your opinion every ten minutes. Yes, she’s totally possessed. No, there is no way she is possessed, she is just a psycho. And once again, you leave The Last Exorcism questioning what the truth of the film was.
SPOILER ALERT: The reason she was freaking out was determined to be hay in the puss.
I apologize to anyone involved in this film if it sounds like I am discrediting your originality, because that was not my intention. If you asked most horror fanatics what the best horror films of all time were, they would probably all include The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Wicker Man in their top ten, if not even their top five. Eli Roth and company were able to combine the best features of multiple horror films, and get an interesting story with a lot of substance. Add in the fact that it was shot by a camera crew in POV style, it really goes farther than most movies you will see this year, or have seen. With the success of Paranormal Activity, it’s easy for anyone to throw together a POV horror film that gives you some scares, and will probably end up financially successful. This is a film that was extremely creepy, and it just so happens it was filmed in POV, rather than relying on it. There’s one scene where Ashley Bell’s character is going through a possession fit and takes control of the camera, which was a terrifying segment that couldn’t have existed had the film been shot in a different style, but it’s so creepy that you immediately know you just got to see something that hasn’t been done before. Don’t walk, run….no wait, don’t run, walk bent over backwards to see this in theaters to make sure your money is going towards people who loves horror making films for people who love horror.
Wolfman Moon Scale